Life hacking is all the rage right now, but more often than not, the tips can be pretty pedestrian. If you spend a lot of time on the road – either for business or pleasure – check out these five money hacks for the adventurous travelers.
Learn to Play the Airlines
Hopping a flight from one coast to the other – or across the ocean – is still the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B, though usually not the cheapest. There are many ways to save money while booking flights, like enrolling in frequent flyer programs to accrue points that you can cash in on free flights or upgrades. However, there are some other tricks you need to keep in mind, especially if you book your flights online.
You may not know that airline prices are often dependent on where you are when you book a flight. So clear your cache and enable private browsing on your computer to keep prices down. This prevents travel sites from increasing flight prices from one visit to the next. Or install a VPN, we like NordVPN or PureVPN, and set your location to a different region or country where prices are generally less expensive, to begin with.
Look for Affordable Accommodations
Searching for affordable accommodations can be as easy as checking out a site like Airbnb for a less expensive but still excellent place to stay. But, if you prefer hotels, getting the best bang for your buck is essential. If you don’t mind sticking with a particular hotel or chain, signing up for membership points programs can help lower the cost of multiple stays.
Other group memberships, like AAA, offer travel perks including hotel discounts. If you don’t have membership points with hotel chains, you can connect with them via social media to get notified about hot promotions. Discounted rates, extra amenities, and having kids stay for free, are common promotions. Email or text alerts can deliver these deals right to your phone.
Sidestep Foreign Exchange Rates
First and foremost, most travelers rely on their bank to exchange currency. It is a commonplace to think that banks have the best exchange rates and lower fees than a currency exchange. There may be some truth to that, but you should be aware that there is no such a thing as 0 percent commission. Most of the time, in fact, the commissions are hidden in the exchange rate.Another option could be using your credit card abroad. But that can involve very high fees, such as higher exchange rates, and foreign transactions fees.
ATMs also usually tack on high surcharges which compel you to pull larger quantities of cash only once or twice during your visit over several smaller withdrawal. There are services that provide cardless currency exchange through partnerships with international banking providers and points of sale. CashDash, for example, is able to reduce the cost of buying foreign currency thanks to highly attractive negotiated exchange rates. They even permit users to return spare foreign cash after their trip.
Short Circuit the Car Rental Process
Car rental fees can be exorbitant. One of the easiest ways to knock that price down is to turn down rental car insurance. Make sure your own private car insurance has you covered because not all insurers are the same. Check your personal policy to see if it extends to when you’re behind the wheel of a rental car.
Even if you can’t skip the insurance there are still ways to save. One of the best ways to get a cut rate is by asking for a relocation car rental. This is when a car has been driven and dropped off on a one-way trip needs and to be returned to the place it came from.
You’ll get a major discount just for returning the car to its rightful place.
If you’re staying local, keep in mind you might not even need a rental car. Riding public transportation, or jumping in a taxi or Uber may be less expensive than renting a car for the duration of your stay. You'll also avoid parking problems and long walks. There's a lot to be said for door to door service.
Sightseeing for Free
Finally, there are ways to entertain yourself and your family on the road that won't break the bank. Museums in major cities like New York or Paris often offer free admission on certain days. You may also be able to purchase an all-inclusive pass for multiple museums for less than it would cost you to visit them individually. The Rockefeller Center and The Museum of Modern Art, for example, offer a combo ticket that's $7 cheaper than buying tickets separately.
If you don't mind self-guided tours, you can save a lot of money. Many digital tour guides, like mobile app Field Trip, also pinpoint free or low-cost attractions on your route and may provide discount deals.
These are just a handful of ways that you can stretch your travel budget further. Keeping these tips in mind can help you discover even more money hacks for frequent travelers. Use your head – and these hacks – to add value to your travels without breaking the bank.